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Virtual Reality VS Augmented Reality VS Mixed Reality

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Global Virtual Reality market is expected to become 15 times bigger by the end of 2020 compared to 2016, reaching $3.7B. Now it is driven by hardware advancements, but industry landscape will soon change in favor of software, thanks to the proliferation of technology.

On the other hand, Augmented Reality performs much better, taking the lion’s share of AV/VR. It was valued at USD 2.39 billion in 2016 and expected to reach $61 billion by 2023. At first glance, this feature may seem too far away, but recent adoption of AR by major tech players like Apple (AR kit) and Google (ARCore) bring the future closer. In addition, there is Mixed Reality around the corner, promising even bigger profits.

Perhaps, it’s about time to decide which market to roam. Let’s make the first look at new technologies and try to find universal definitions for virtual and augmented reality.

Virtual Reality

history of VR

If you ask me to define virtual reality in simple terms then I’ll call it computer generated simulation or replacement of one’s environment.

For example, you put on a headset, it blocks out your worldview and substitutes the digital world as designed to fool your senses. From the point of view of your brain – you’re somewhere else. So the ultimate measure of virtual reality efficiency is how good it fools your brain. It’s like a mental teleportation.

The origins of VR as a technology system can be traced back to 1962 and the first VR display was created in 1968. Along the 60s VR hardware existed in university research labs as balky non-consumer products.

Meanwhile, over 70-80s various companies, such as Nintendo and NEC, have tried bringing VR to the consumer market. for good or for bad those efforts were major failures. The reasons for industry’s previous failures were because of technology weakness and the threshold for building a convincing headset was too high.

VR Applications

Currently, VR is quickly becoming extremely relevant to gamers and 3D artists, architects, and real estate agents. This is because the costs of headset and computing power needed to sustain illusion are lower than ever before.

Because of its nature, Virtual Reality is suitable for tasks that require full immersion. If you need to create an artificial reality that totally differs from the one you live in (like for gaming purposes) – go get VR!

Non-Interactive VR

  • Storytelling – This is a lucrative spot for ads. Using this option advertiser could deliver near-life presence and amazing user experience.
  • Film Making – The easiest way to imagine a future use of VR is thinking about movies industry. 360 videos are already used by Hollywood to make trailers and previews.
  • Real Estate – Sales team can provide future tenants or suite holders with the view of how their property may look like when the construction is done. This can be very handy while selling premium spaces up-front the construction.

Interactive VR

  • Games – Unlike AR, virtual reality doesn’t constrain artists with real-life landscapes and provide developers with unlimited possibilities.
  • 3D Sculpting – The luck of input methods make VR inconvenient for full-fledged 3D-modeling, which relies heavily on shortcuts and keyboard commands. But artistic sculpting can do the trick.
  • Architecture – Testing a total footprint of the building on the landscape while developing the project is far better in VR, that gives you a sense of scale.

Augmented Reality


Some people are convinced that VR is only a part of a puzzle, and maybe not even the most immersive one. That’s where augmented reality comes in. While VR puts you inside an artificial environment, AR technology and MR (Mixed Reality) brings artifice to your natural surroundings.

What is Augmented Reality

If you need to define Augmented Reality you can’t just say it generates environment. AR’s effect can be as simple as having a tiny visual overlay on your world: a speedometer, or a tooltip. From this point of view literally any graphical, sound or physical overlay can be called Augmented Reality. If you wear noise-canceling headphones, that can be called AR too.

Augmented Reality world is totally different from VR. This is because its main purpose isn’t to cut out the real world and transport you to another one, but rather to be an enhancement of real world with a set of overlays.

AR Applications

  • Education.
  • Construction.
  • Information access.
  • Advertisement.
  • Navigation.

Mixed Reality

mixed reality engineering

When that overlay becomes a virtual object, one you can interact with, then that becomes Mixed Reality. At first glance, mixed reality seems pretty much similar to AR. Some can say MR is a synonym to Augmented Reality. Still, the difference is huge.

Mixed Reality is what Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap have been working on. You can call Mixed Reality an interactive reality, but don’t mess it with AR features your smartphone has.

Because you should interact with virtual objects located in physical space, everybody else can see and interact with. And all this data should be stored and accessed through the cloud, and your actions should be tracked and coordinated with virtual space, and on, and on, and on…

Looking_MR , augmented reality vs virtual reality

Shortly speaking, MR is a much more complex and data-intensive endeavor than AR, requiring an immense amount of processing. Mixed Reality can let you interact with fictional characters in your living room, or just turn your environment into the greatest office space imaginable.

Bottom Line

While affordable and seamless Mixed Reality is still years away, we can make use of VR and AR capabilities. Recent advancement in mobile AR made by Apple and Google have provided us with new tools to create engaging augmented reality mobile apps.

It’s up to you whether to use VR, AR for your project. Each of them is made for particular tasks. In construction, it is easier to work with Virtual Reality that augmented one. It frees you from physical boundaries and allows to build whole new spaces instead of attaching them to the physical space. Because there are no problems with transparency and merging of two layers of reality.

On the other hand, AR enhances the world we live in and there are plenty ways to use it as a supplemented tool in your business. We are proficient enough to carry all the works needed for development of VR and AR apps.

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